Friday, January, 24, 2020
Monday started really early – 4:00am. Barry, Donna along with Max and Anne left Grassy Key at 4:50AM. We didn’t have to be in Key West until 7:00 but there is only 2 lanes of one highway down to Key West. There are no alternate routes/detours. This was our only chance for the four of us to make this trip this year, and we didn’t want anything like a wreck to keep us from arriving on time. We had no problems and arrived in Key West with plenty of time to spare. We had checked the forecast and knew we were going to have a bumpy ride to the Dry Tortugas National Park so we all took some meclizine to try to ward off any motion sickness. Out boat, the Yankee Freedom III, pulled away from the dock at 8:00. After a very rough ride, we arrived at the Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West, at 10:30. Thankfully for us none of the four suffered sea sickness but a lot of the people on board were not so lucky. Dry Tortugas is one of the most remote and desirable fishing destinations in the Florida Keys. We, however were not there for the fishing.
After disembarking our boat, we headed straight to Fort Jefferson for our guided tour. Our guide, David, did a tremendous job with the tour. We were amazed at how they built the fort with the tools of the day. It is the largest all masonry fort in the US. The sea was so rough they did not recommend we go snorkeling so we had extra time to explore the island. We had a great time in spite of the rough seas and would certainly recommend the trip. We are trying to see all the National Parks so this is one more off the list.
After returning to Key West ferry port, we headed into downtown. First stop was at Mallory Square for the celebration of the sunset – everyone needs to do this at least once. It was a nice sunset, but not great. The crowd gathered in the Square didn’t care. However, being a Monday evening, the Square was not rocking like it does on the weekends. Next was Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. According to Anne and Donna – THE BEST key lime juice for key lime pie. Of course all the wonderful samples were also a plus. Several purchases were made. By now we realized just how long ago 4:00am was so we headed back to Marathon. Dry Tortugas NP and Mallory Square – two more bucket list check marks!
Tuesday was planned as our Dolphin Experience but since we were able to do that Sunday when the weather was great, today we had a relaxed morning. We did have the energy to go back to Sweet Savannah’s because the Tuesday special cupcake is Boston Cream. One of the best cupcakes we have ever eaten. We also checked in at George’s to see if the dedication was on as planned and in the late afternoon went to Big Pine Key to show Barry and Donna the key deer. We also had dinner at Kings Seafood – some really great Key West pink shrimp. So fresh! To somewhat off set our shrimp and cupcakes, had a nice walk on Coco Plumb Beach, one of Marathon’s public beaches. Weather was cold and winds 25-30 mph so no swimming today, either.
Wednesday, we went to Georges home dedication. So amazing the transformation of the park model in 2.5 weeks. While we have been playing the team has really been working. The counter top in the kitchen looked great as did the completion of the bathroom. Of course, it always looks better when the base board is installed. George seemed really pleased.
Afterwards we went to the National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center so we could get our National Park passports stamped. While back on Big Pine, we went back down to blue hole but the weather was still too cold and windy for the gators to make an appearance. Maybe Donna and Barry will see some gators when they go back through the everglades on the way home. On the way back to the RV park, we stopped to find a geocache and saw the Curry Hammock State Park nature trail and took a nice hike. In the afternoon we were walking around the RV park and down by the sea wall, it was amazing the quantity of sea grass that had been blown in. There was no way to use the boat ramp. Never seen anything quite like that. For our sunset today we visited Sunset Park in Key Colony Beach. Different experience. The people of the community gather every afternoon with their wine and other assorted drinks, watch the sun go down and join in singing their song about Marathon Key. They handed out copies of the song so visitors could participate as well. We had prettier sunset today and the entire experience was interesting.
Thursday – our last day with Barry and Donna. We started our day with a bike ride on the Grassy Key Trail while we were waiting for the day to warm up a bit. We road the great bike trail to a big park along the water in Marathon. It was a great eleven mile ride. We planned to kayak at Curry Hammock State Park, but the attendant at the gate said there was still a small craft advisory and the state park couldn’t rent them. We checked the Weather Service web site and didn’t see any advisory, but knew it would do no good to argue. Very disappointing because we were not going in the ocean. We were going to do the tour of the mangroves. Not to be deterred, we went to the Crane Point Hammock, hiked, found some geocaches and spent a really nice afternoon outside. We visited the hammocks from land instead of by water. This afternoon’s sunset was viewed from our very own pier at the RV park. Nice.
Friday – Early this morning we said goodbye to Barry and Donna as they started their journey back to Alabama. It’s been a great few days that passed way too fast. Safe travels and we will see you again soon. Our plans for the day changed because it rained. Not predicted! So today was a stay at home day for laundry, work and walking in the park. Tomorrow it’s back to Big Pine. What a wonderful week!